Friday, March 23, 2007

Eternal Blood – review


Directed by: Jorge Olguín

Release date: 2002

Contains spoilers

This film from Chile has a very interesting premise and, as such, I’m rather glad that regular visitor Edna Sweetlove requested a review as it gave me impetus to dig the DVD out and have a re-watch.

The film begins with a TV interview about an upcoming lunar eclipse and the new age significance. The TV is in a shop window and we see a Goth girl (Blanca Lewin) walk past. She is heading towards the college and is looking for her friend Pancha (Pascale Litvak). Pancha is talking to a group of Goths, who are referred to by more casually dressed students as the freaks. We discover later they are M (Juan Pablo Ogalde), Elizabeth (Patricia López) and Martín (Claudio Espinoza). The girl (and I refer to her without character name for reasons that will come apparent later) has an assignment due for Professor Romero (Jorge Denegri) – I wonder who they were making reference to with that name – and goes to one of his lectures. M also goes to the lecture.

damned clergyLater the girl asks M if he will consent to be interviewed for her assignment but he is busy. We see M and his friends walking down the street. M feels uneasy and we see a priest staring at them from across the road. They head down a side street and suddenly they are confronted by a priest and two nuns holding guns. They shoot M who vamps out and we get a gory confrontation between the clergy and vampires.

messy eaterI’m not going to go too in depth into the fight itself except to point out that it is daylight but overcast and, as the sun emerges the vampires begin to smoke. We seem to be in the realm of schlock with really heavy gore moments – including a nicely realised ripped off head feeding moment. Some of the effects are not brilliant but all are passable and many work well enough. That said the actual makeup effects on the vampires are excellent, giving them a highly veined look. Then the film twists things around on us.

Patricia López as ElizabethWe see dice role and suddenly we realise that they are roleplaying (a vampire role playing game called Sangre Eterna). Elizabeth is not too happy as her character is looking fairly doomed as they finish and M seems to be a stickler for the rules, to the point of anal retention. After deciding they need a new player the friends go to a club.

Carlos Borquez as DahmerM is in the toilet of the club, in a cubicle, when a punk clears the toilet out and a ‘meeting’ takes place between a man, the punk and a Goth, we later discover to be called Dahmer (Carlos Borquez). M watches from the toilet as the punk beats the man with a spiked knuckle duster and then Dahmer vamps out and feeds from the man. It seems that M’s fantasy world has made an appearance in reality.

caught in the sunThe next day M consents to the girl’s interview request and persuades her to role play with them. Her character is Carmilla and this is why I never mentioned her name earlier. Elizabeth and Martín are also character names. We never get to know the players’ real names. Carmilla is not named before joining the game and thereafter is always referred to in character. When M rings Carmilla’s home and gets her mother he simply says “I am a friend of your daughter”. M himself is so called as he is the Master (as in game master). It is part of the blurring between fantasy and reality that the film does so well. After their game, in which the new character of Carmilla rescues the beleaguered Elizabeth, they go to a party in a disused house and discover it is thrown by Dahmer. M is wary and then sees Dahmer feeding from Elizabeth and, as the film progresses, he begins to realise that Dahmer intends to turn them all in a ritual connected with the eclipse.

role 20 to escapeThat said, is Dahmer a vampire or are we seeing the delusions of a disturbed young man who has lost the dividing line between fantasy and reality? The film blurs these lines brilliantly and it is in this blurring that the film is masterful.

a shadow creatureWe get very little in the way of vampire lore. The vampires look normal until vamping and can be injured by gun shot. Too much sunlight is harmful and bullets dipped in holy water are deadly, staking also appears to work. Carmilla, in the game, is said to be from a certain clan which attracts shadow creatures – enemies of the vampires themselves.

All is not perfect in the film, however. Some of the effects can be hokey, as I said, and the film stock used is of low quality (or perhaps even a digicam). The lighting, however, works well enough, in that nothing is ever lost in darkness.

Juan Pablo Ogalde as MThe direction is functional enough, though nothing stands out as utterly brilliant. That said the director does manage to instil some chills and minor jumps.

The biggest problem with the film is the dubbed dialogue. The dubbing is atrocious and the voice actors not brilliant. Given the relative newness of the film I cannot see why the DVD couldn’t have had subtitles. To be fair it is not enough to wreck the film but it is annoying. The characters are not brilliantly realised, we get some background but it is up to us to fill in the gaps, the scenes with Carmilla and her mother, whilst important to her character, fail to convince.

The film brilliantly blurs lines and, whilst roleplay orientated films are not too unusual, it is a fairly unique premise as a vampire film. That said I do not want to stray any higher than 6 out of 10 as the dubbing is problematic. The majority of score is down to the excellent blurring of fantasy and reality I mentioned. I really want to see an original dialogue, subtitled version of this.

The imdb page is here.


Edna Sweetlove said...

Fair review. I've never seen the dubbed version but know how it must have been ruined for you.
Edna met the director Jorge Olguin once - nice chap who I seem to remember has a cameo near the beginning of SANGRE ETERNA as the young goth who knocks the hero's drink over in the club.

Hmmm, next review suggestion: VAMPIRES IN VENICE (aka NOSFERATU IN VENICE).

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Thanks Edna.

Vampires in Venice I think is a great film (from memory as it has to be over 15 years ago since I last saw it) with a marvelous Vangelis soundtrack. Though I think I am one of the few that liked it!

Unfortunately I don't have the film - I do keep a weather eye out for it, but as far as I can tell it isn't on DVD yet. It was on ebay (a dvd-r version taken from video I believe) a little while ago but was selling for silly money.

I promise you, however, that when I do finally get hold of it there will be a review of it.

Edna Sweetlove said...

Edna saw it on ITV/Carlton about 10 years ago. Quite nice atmos but very duff script, as I recall.

Here's a reminder:

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Cheers Edna - it is so many years since I've seen the film, but as soon as the melodramatic Vangelis soundtrack started playing (from the Mask album - if memory serves) it transported me back.